The thing to take heed of at an art fair is that it is indeed a fair. It is not a museum, nor an exhibition per se, although many of the fairs are curated. Basel and it's ancillary fairs are markets plain and simple. There are moments when this detail can be overlooked. Like for instance when you're getting a chance to see a Nauman that you've only ever witnessed in books, or a Bourgeois that was missing from her recent retrospective. But even these spottings come with a bittersweet tang when you think about them heading off to a private collector never to be seen by public eyes again. In contrast to these moments the market-ness of the fair can be overly apparent as you trudge through stall after stall of redundant, derivative, and banal commercial work.
As others who have recently written about Basel - myself included - have already stated, Barry McGee inspired street doodlings were out in full force. Heading up the derivative department, Scope was graced with what I'm going to refer to as a poor man's Banksy and skull art also seems to still be holding strong. In the end my colleague and I counted a total of 40+ skulls in the 11 fairs we attended making for an average of 3.64 skulls per fair.
Because I was primarily focussed on work that I eventually hope to bring to Sacramento I didn't really take many if any photos of work I wasn't crazy about with a few exceptions.
For anyone who's ever read Art School Confidential I give you Scope's equivalent of "Tangerine Amoeba Apartheid Heartbeat IV." I didn't jot down the title of this work but the gumball machine filled with bloody tampons, dead scorpions, and broken glass with a wolf's head mounted on top should tell you all you need to know.
The video work of Marcus Coates at Workspace Gallery left me speechless. Prior to approaching Coates' smart video work I was in full on fair-zombie mode. The two pieces Workspace had to offer by this artist left me giddy and smiling throughout the rest of NADA giving me hope that there could be more good work ahead.
Local boy made good Joe Amrhein of Pierogi 2000, rented a space in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood and offered up several lovely works including the above piece by Tony Fitzpatrick.
And this "Rat House" by Kim Jones.
Kate Engelbrecht's "Girl Project" at Scope involved the distribution of cameras to teenage girls throughout America with the intention of documenting their experience as adolescent women in the US. The results were intelligent, charming, and poignant.
Also at Scope was Hassan Hajjaj's stunning "Buy Me, 2008"
The tapestry show at Design Miami was largely disappointing with the exception of this piece by Kara Walker. The era from which much of Walker's work draws its inspiration lent itself nicely to tapestry as a medium. The rest of the works in the show were pretty boring, however.